Condoms & Dental Dams

Condoms and dental dams are the only way to decrease your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are some infections that a condom or dam will not provide protection against. The only way to completely protect yourself is to abstain from sex. You must use a condom every time you have sex. Condoms must be used prior to any physical touching and left in place until you finish having sex. No visit, exam or prescription is needed for condoms or dental dams. They are not the most effective form of birth control and should be used together with another birth control method. Dental dams are not a form of birth control.

Did you know there are two different types of condoms?

Male Condom 82% Effective

Female Condom 79% Effective


  • Free or very cheap
  • No exam or prescription needed
  • Prevents most STIs
  • One of the methods for males
  • Lots of options
  • Very few side effects


  • Relies on the male to use
  • Has to be used EVERY time
  • Can get old and tear
  • Can cause skin tenderness if you are allergic to latex or spermicide
  • Not great at preventing pregnancy


  • Easy to purchase and use
  • Prevents most STI's
  • Very few side effects
  • Females can protect themselves
  • Made of polyurethane - few allergic reactions


  • Relies on the female to use it
  • Has to be used EVERY time
  • Not great at preventing pregnancy
  • Can tear but not as often as male condoms

Dental Dams

A dental dam is a flat piece of latex used to protect a female's partner from STIs during oral sex. It is placed over the vulva (external female genitals) prior to oral sex.

You can purchase these in stores or make your own. If you choose to make your own, it is important to use latex. Latex will not let bacteria seep through. A male or female condom can be converted to a dental dam by cutting the ends off and splitting the tube open to lay flat. Latex gloves can be cut to create a dental dam, as well.

Using plastic wrap has not been tested to stop bacteria, so it is best to use a latex product.

A dental dam is not a form of birth control and will not protect you from pregnancy